Lancaster Dukes director awarded

Dukes Artistic Director, Joe Sumsion with his Writers Guild award. Picture by Darren Andrews.
Dukes Artistic Director, Joe Sumsion with his Writers Guild award. Picture by Darren Andrews.

The Dukes Artistic Director has won a national award for bringing new plays to the Lancaster theatre.

Joe Sumsion received his Olwen Wymark Theatre Encouragement Award during a ceremony at London’s Royal Court Theatre.

The Olwen Wymark Awards, the brainchild of playwright Mark Ravenhill, were set up to give 
Writers Guild of Great 
Britain members the 
opportunity to publicly thank those who had given them a positive experience in new writing over the 
previous year.

Joe said: “I’m delighted to accept the award on behalf of The Dukes.

“We try to act like a magnet for ideas here, encouraging writers to create ambitious new ‘made in Lancashire’ plays which wouldn’t exist if we didn’t support them.”

He was nominated for the award by Coronation Street scriptwriter Debbie Oates who has adapted Treasure Island, A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist for The Dukes over recent years.

Debbie said: “At a time when many theatres feel they must play safe and work with tried and tested existing plays, Joe has been working hard for seven years to reposition The Dukes as a centre of encouragement for writers.

“This has not been done simply as a development 
exercise but it has now translated into fully realised commissions and productions.

“Writers are valued, encouraged, developed, supported and, ultimately, produced, and this is down to the drive and vision of Joe.”

Joe is one of only three people to have won this Writers Guild award twice. Prior to joining The Dukes in 2007, he was recognised for his work on The Bomb, a new play which he subsequently directed in Lancaster a year later.

The Dukes has recently created a Writers Hub to develop work and make links with up-and-coming writers.